As President Obama visits Tanzania this week, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) urges him to press his counterpart President Jakaya Kikwete to take swift action against a poaching epidemic that could wipe out Tanzania elephants within a decade.
Tourism accounts for 17 percent of Tanzania's GDP ($1.3 billion in revenue in 2011), with 1.2 million visitors each year viewing the country's extraordinary wildlife, particularly its iconic elephants. The United States has been a strong supporter of Tanzania's economic development with over $698 million in aid channeled through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in recent years and further aid has been promised. Decimating Tanzania's elephant population would undercut the investment the United States has made toward the nation's economic development.
"All the available evidence points to Tanzania having more elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade than in any other African nation. At least 10,000 elephants are being killed every year," said Allan Thornton, President of the EIA. "We urge the United States to withhold additional foreign aid until the Tanzania government has taken significant steps toward combatting the mass slaughter of elephants and enacting a sustained country wide crackdown on the illegal ivory trade and the syndicates that drive it."
In 1989, the United States strongly supported Tanzania's proposal to place all African elephants on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). The success of the ivory ban led to a dramatic decline in demand for ivory and a major reduction in elephant poaching. In subsequent years, Tanzania's elephant populations almost doubled to an estimated 109,000 animals in 2006. More....